- Vol. 03
- Chapter 05
The Numb Keeper.
Memories, regardless of what people say, erode after time. Each setting sun says farewell to what it was, each rising star saying hello to what it is. It’s as if each tick taps at the hard rocky surface of the monument of what happened before and each tock echoes the sound it makes as that little detail bounces off the ground and disappears into the world of forgotten good and evil. The cat, however, stopped this. Whether it was because of its mannerisms and how they reminded me of Isobel, the shudder from being touched or the panic at any sudden sound for example, or simply because it was hers at one point keeps her in the room with me.
Every day when I returned from work the cat was waiting for me by the door, eyes already looking up, drawing an ‘S’ around my ankles. I patted it, ruffled its head and proceeded to give it what it really wanted; food. Then it left for a while and returned in the late evening while I watched something dreary on television, curling itself on my lap as if to remind me that I wasn’t alone. The smooth purring gave the room atmosphere and got rid of the silence that had lingered since Isobel’s leaving.
The Numb Keeper.
This pattern of caring for the animal in return for comfort in the evening continued for a couple of years before the cat got old and passed away. It was only at that moment that I felt the snake that was my intestine come alive, wriggle and bite me from the inside. The grief was extraordinary. I tried drinking, smoking and even drugs for a while but nothing tamed the reptile within me. Every morning it welcomed me with the new sun. The morning light revealed a new miserable day, the snake reminded me I was still alive to endure it. I’d stay in bed for about an hour, looking up at the ceiling and the way the sun moved the shadows across the unfinished paint job. Then I’d slip out of my side of the bed and wander through to the large, modern and open living area, looking up at the two photos I had above the electric fire. One was of the cat’s nose. A subtle reminder of what it was like to have the animal’s face so close to mine, looking at me in the eyes just for a second before wandering off for something more important. The other was of Isobel, her face looking just off from the centre of the camera, smiling as I pulled a face before I pressed the camera’s button to capture the moment. Below both pictures laid their remains. Both independent from one another. The cat’s being the reminder of how it kept the snake at bay. Isobel’s making me wish we were all but phoenixes, able to rise from the ashes and give the world another smile.